Virago Modern Classics Book Club
by Dorothy West
This September we are celebrating the reissue of Dorothy West’s classic novel, The Wedding.
In her last novel, Dorothy West, an iconic member of the Harlem Renaissance, offers an intimate glimpse into African American middle class. With elegant, luminous prose, Dorothy West crowns her literary career by illustrating one family’s struggle to break the shackles of race and class.
‘A writer of huge compassion and acute observation, and also of dazzling style . . .
Her work is more relevant than ever’
With a new introduction by DIANA EVANS
'A writer of huge compassion and acute observation, and also of dazzling style . . . Her work is more relevant than ever' Diana Evans
'Timelessly cinematic, with painterly visual descriptions and pitch-perfect dialogue that ranges across class, region, race, age, and gender' Emma Garman, Paris Review
Set on a bucolic Martha's Vineyard in the 1950s, The Wedding tells the story of life in the Oval, a proud, insular community made up of the best and brightest of the East Coast's black bourgeoisie. Within this inner circle of 'blue-vein society', we witness the prominent Coles family gather for the wedding of their loveliest daughter, Shelby, who could have chosen from 'a whole area of eligible men of the right colors and the right professions.' Instead, she has fallen in love with and is about to be married to Mead Wyler, a white jazz musician from New York. A shock wave breaks over the Oval as its longtime members grapple with the changing face of its community.
Not just the story of one wedding, but of many, this compelling story offers insights into issues of race, prejudice and identity while maintaining its firm belief in the compensatory power of love.
Through a delicate interweaving of past and present, North and South, black and white, The Wedding unfolds outward from a single isolated time and place until it embraces five generations of an extraordinary American family. It is an audacious accomplishment, a monumental history of the rise of a black middle class, written by a writer who lived it. Wise, heartfelt, and shattering, it is Dorothy West's crowning achievement.
Plus, click here to discover what else we will be reading this year.